Have you ever found yourself in this situation:
It’s the morning of January 1 and you have a ton of energy and ambition for the new year. You’re ready to kick ass, take names, and make the year your bitch. You grab a cup of coffee and your favorite notebook, and start thinking about your resolutions for the year. You think, “If I write these down then I’ll actually make an effort to work on them,” so you scribble your list down and then post it where you’ll see it every day.
For the first few weeks of the year, you’re diligent about looking at your list. You make sure you eat right and exercise (everyone has a resolution to lose weight, right?). You avoid the Starbucks drive thru and tuck the money you save away in a jar (that jar will be full in no time and then you can take a fun vacation, right?). You’re on time for all your appointments and you feel great about yourself because you’re kicking those resolution’s asses.
Fast-forward to February. You only get to the gym once a week because life is too crazy and there are other obligations to deal with. Starbucks has become a regular part of your morning routine again. And yeah, you’re still eating well, but you don’t have time to do any meal prepping, so you eat out a ton. All those resolutions have slipped your mind and when they do come back to you, you tell yourself not to worry because there will always be another year where you can set some new resolutions.
Does this sound familiar? I can relate to everything I just wrote because this used to be me.
I was the queen of resolutions at one point. I’d spend the last few days of the year deciding what I wanted to focus on. I’d make lists, I’d go gung-ho for a few weeks after the ball dropped, and then …
Everything went to shit. My resolutions fell to the wayside and I fell back into habits I was trying to break.
This happened over and over again. Year after year I’d make resolutions and break them before March even rolled around. After a while, I didn’t want to make resolutions anymore. In my mind they were pointless, because I never followed through with them.
Then, about five years ago, I had an epiphany. I needed to put goals in place and they needed to be ones that were meaningful to me, otherwise I’d never want to work on them. (That was another issue with my resolutions—they were usually ridiculous.)
That year, instead of making a list of resolutions, I dug deep inside and looked at what areas I needed to work on and was willing to dedicate some serious time to. And then, I generated a list of life goals.
How do life goals differ from resolutions, you ask? In my opinion:
- Life goals can be ongoing. There will inevitably be ones for which we set an ideal date of achievement, but some will be works in progress for a while, which means they go with us into the next year.
- Life goals have a “why” behind them. We set goals for a reason and that reason is what makes them meaningful. We’re more likely to buy into the things we try to accomplish if they’re meaningful to us. Resolutions, in my opinion, tend to be spontaneous and don’t carry as much weight behind them.
- Life goals are a bit more serious than resolutions. Honestly, they’re way more serious. Resolutions are something that equal fun and games. They’re an entertaining New Years tradition. Life goals, on the other hand, propel us forward. If we set the right ones, they should help set us on course to turn our personal mission into a reality.
Once I started setting life goals—ones that I took seriously—I started seeing the positive impact they had on me, both professionally and personally. Ever since, I’ve established life goals each year (and carried some over as I continue to work on them).
How do I set life goals? I start by sitting down and assessing where I’m at. I look at my career, finances, relationships, hobbies, and life in general. I always ask myself, “What is your vision for the future?” “Where do you want to be?” “What do you want to accomplish?” “What do you want your life to look like 1, 3, or 5 years from now?” These can be difficult questions to answer, especially if you’re still discovering yourself and learning who you are and what you want.
Side note – I also like to reflect on where I’ve been and what I’ve done before. History can teach us a lot and hindsight is always 20/20, like they say. There are some roads I’ve traveled down in the past (art school, for example) that were really awful ideas (I have no artistic talent, nor do I have the time or motivation to try and develop some). I don’t want to replicate those, so keeping them in the back of my mind is important.
Once I’ve carved out a clear vision for myself, I think about what I need to do to get there. A million thoughts usually pop into my head, so I have to tweeze out the most important ways, while also looking at whether they are realistic given my current circumstances.
Another side note – there’s a difference between goals and dreams, in my opinion. Our dreams can be lofty as fuck (and they should be). Our goals are the more immediate steps we can take to turn those dreams into realities. Does that make sense? (Feel free to disagree with me in the comment too!) Think of it like a map. The dream is the destination, the goals are the route we take to get there.
This year, I have a total of six life goals. Three of them are ongoing ones that I’ve been working on since about mid-2017. The other three are new. And one is a just for fun goal, because I think it’s important to toss one of those into the mix.
Life Goal #1 – Continue working on living a lifestyle that is healthy in all ways. (Ongoing.)
One of my dreams is to change the world. (Lofty af, right?) I can’t do that if I’m not healthy. I suffer from anxiety and depression, and I work a job that’s high-stress. (#executivelife) It’s crucial that I put my mental health at the forefront and live a lifestyle that allows me to incorporate self-care, physical activity, and other things that keep me in a good mental place. I also have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Type 2 Diabetes. This means I need to be hyper focused on numbers like glucose A1C, and cholesterol. This will be a forever ongoing life goal for me because I want to live long enough to make my dreams come true.
Life Goal #2 – Snowball away debt. (Ongoing.)
I have AWFUL financial management skills. And that’s led to my racking up a shitload of credit card debt, on top of the astronomical student loan debt I have after grad school. My dream is to buy a house in late 2021, after my lease is up. This gives me roughly 3 years to eliminate my credit card debt and sock money away for a down payment. Snowballing has been effective for friends and having a written plan and seeing where it will carry me, I believe it will be successful for me too. (Fingers crossed they don’t do away with the loan forgiveness program I’m in for those student loans…)
Life Goal #3 – Have a book ready to publish by the end of 2020. (Ongoing.)
Writing is my biggest passion. Being a published author has been my biggest dream since I was about 8 years old. I have fan fiction Torres I’ve completed, that got good reception. I have about 6 original fiction works in progress. Now, I need to be intentional about focusing on book series I want to publish. I need to dedicate time every day to writing. I need to stop comparing my words to those of others and stop worrying about criticism (it’s inevitable and I can handle it). I need to put most of my spare energy into prepping a manuscript and getting it ready for publication. And I need to use the connections and resources I have to help me along the way.
Life Goal #4 – Make myself a priority. (New.)
I’m really good at taking care of others. Helping others is my calling. It’s what I do for a living. I’m the mother hen. I constantly worry about people and I’m always willing to do anything I can for those closest to me. Unfortunately, I’m not so good at taking care of myself. I’m well-known for stretching myself too thin and not practicing self-care. This goes back to my mental health and stress levels. I can’t fill anyone else’s cup if I don’t keep mine full. So I’m going to focus on me. I’m going to focus on gratitude, getting enough sleep, pampering myself once in a while, and asking for help when I need it.
Life Goal #5 – Establish a good work-life balance. (New.)
I am my father’s daughter. I’m in a high-level position that requires a lot and I’m a workaholic. On several occasions in the last 4 months my mom has asked me why I work so much, why I constantly bring work home, and when am I going to get a break from it. I’ve broken plans with people because of work. And while some is self-created, a lot isn’t, and I need to do something about it. This goes back to self-care and keeping my cup full. I can’t achieve some of my dreams if I don’t dedicate enough time to myself and allow myself to shut down and focus on me sometimes.
Life Goal #6 – Learn how to function in heels.
This is my fun life goal for 2019. In previous years, I learned how to rock red lipstick and started wearing dresses (which, along with leggings, I live in now, lol). This year, I’m going to master the art of waking in heels. I’m a klutz, so this has always been an iffy area for me. I’m also tallish (5’9”), so I’ve been embarrassed to wear heels because of how tall they make me. But this year, for the hell of it, I’m going to give them a shot.
I plan on doing quarterly updates on the blog in regards to how I’m doing with my these goals. Not only will that help hold me accountable, but I’m hoping it might inspire some of you to set some goals and do the same. And, when I launch my Facebook group this spring, I want to use that as a space for women to come together and talk more about topics like this, and work together on things like owning and accepting failure (it happens and it’s a great learning tool), accountability, and using our goals and one another to pave a road to success.
What are some of your dreams and goals? Share in the comments! Let’s have a conversation!